Intel was an early developer of SRAM and DRAM memory chips, and this represented the majority of its business until 1981. Although Intel created the world's first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971, it was not until the success of the personal computer (PC) that this became its primary business. During the 1990s, Intel invested heavily in new microprocessor designs fostering the rapid growth of the computer industry. During this period Intel became the dominant supplier of microprocessors for PCs, and was known for aggressive and sometimes illegal tactics in defense of its market position, particularly against Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as well as a struggle with Microsoft for control over the direction of the PC industry. The 2011 rankings of the world's 100 most valuable brands published by Millward Brown Optimor showed the company's brand value at number 58 and in 2012 at number 49.
Intel was originally founded in Mountain View, California in 1968 by Gordon E. Moore (of "Moore's Law" fame, a chemist and physicist), Robert Noyce (a physicist and co-inventor of the integrated circuit), and Arthur Rock (investor and venture capitalist). Moore and Noyce came from Fairchild Semiconductor and were Intel's first two employees. Rock was not an employee, but he was an investor and Chairman of the Board. The total initial investment in Intel was $2.5 million convertible debentures and $10,000 from Rock. Just 2 years later, Intel completed their initial public offering (IPO), raising $6.8 million ($23.50 per share). Intel's third employee was Andy Grove, a chemical engineer, who later ran the company through much of the 1980s and the high-growth 1990s.
Moore and Noyce initially wanted to name the company "Moore Noyce". The name, however, was a partial homophone for "more noise" – an ill-suited name for an electronics company, since noise in electronics is usually very undesirable and typically associated with bad interference. Instead they used the name NM Electronics for almost a year, before deciding to call their company Integrated Electronics or "Intel" for short. Since "Intel" was already trademarked by the hotel chain Intelco, they had to buy the rights for the name.
At its founding, Intel was distinguished by its ability to make semiconductors. Its first product, in 1969, was the 3101 Schottky TTL bipolar 64-bit static random-access memory (SRAM), which was nearly twice as fast as earlier Schottky diode implementations by Fairchild and the Electrotechnical Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan. That same year Intel also produced the 3301 Schottky bipolar 1024-bit read-only memory (ROM) and the first commercial metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) silicon gate SRAM chip, the 256-bit 1101. Intel's business grew during the 1970s as it expanded and improved its manufacturing processes and produced a wider range of products, still dominated by various memory devices.
While Intel created the first commercially available microprocessor (Intel 4004) in 1971 and one of the first microcomputers in 1972, by the early 1980s its business was dominated by dynamic random-access memory chips. However, increased competition from Japanese semiconductor manufacturers had, by 1983, dramatically reduced the profitability of this market, and the sudden success of the IBM personal computer convinced then-CEO Andrew Grove to shift the company's focus to microprocessors, and to change fundamental aspects of that business model.
By the end of the 1980s this decision had proven successful. Buoyed by its fortuitous position as microprocessor supplier to IBM and IBM's competitors within the rapidly growing personal computer market, Intel embarked on a 10-year period of unprecedented growth as the primary (and most profitable) hardware supplier to the PC industry. By launching its Intel Inside marketing campaign in 1991, Intel was able to associate brand loyalty with consumer selection, so that by the end of the 1990s, its line of Pentium processors had become a household name.